What’s the best place to stage a car show?
By Larry Edsall
A couple of weeks ago, I attended Dana Mecum’s 24th annual Original Spring Classic car auction, which for the last four years has been held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.
When I worked at AutoWeek magazine, I used to go to Indy every May for the 500-mile race. Driving into the fairgrounds, I remembered being there once before, a few decades ago, for what I recall was a dirt champ car race held a day or two before the big show at the Brickyard. This was back in the era when the Indy stars raced several times each week, maybe a couple of midget or sprint races, or even a short-track stock car race or, as in this case, a champ car race on a one-mile fairgrounds dirt track.
The Indiana State Fair pre-dates the Civil War and was held at various sites in the state until 1892, when it found a permanent home on more than 200 acres along 38th Street just west of Fall Creek. The facility now includes more than 50 buildings, including six huge and interconnected structures that each May house the Mecum auction. Those buildings range from the Champions Pavilion, which opened in 2004, to the West Pavilion, which dates to 1924.
The auction action takes place in the Champions Pavilion, but the action I enjoyed the most was wandering from building to building, discovering the various passageways that lead to yet more of the nearly 2000 cars that were to be offered for sale.
Mecum does a terrific job showcasing special vehicles. This year, for example, it created a mini-Motorama display for a quartet of 1953 GM convertibles being sold -- a Corvette, an Eldorado, a Buick Skylark and an Olds Fiesta -- and nearby were five Classic Fin Trendsetters, a quintet of 1957-60 big-finned Chrysler products.
Eventually, I came to the West Pavilion, where the early morning sunlight filtering through windows mounted high along the building’s roofline, created a gorgeous setting in which the cars appear to glow.
I kept thinking the facility would be a great backdrop for a Hollywood action movie, and that it was probably the best classic car auction venue I’d yet to experience. Or maybe I should say the best classic car show venue, since, to those of us who are not buying and selling, classic car auctions are great classic car shows.
Which got me to thinking about classic car show venues and which are the best. Often, such car shows simply take place in nondescript parking lots while fancy-schmancy concours d’elegance are held on the short fairway grass of an elegant golf course.
Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village, with its historic buildings set in a small town setting, annually is host to a “motor muster” that features vintage cars in an early 20th century village setting and, just to the east, Riverside Park in Ypsilanti provides an almost island-like setting for a variety of car events. I enjoy the intimacy of both venues.
Which brings me to the question: What do you think is the best venue for a classic car show?
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